A.J. HINCH: I don't think it has anything to do with analytics. I think it has everything to do with they did a pretty good job at finishing their at-bats. They're a tough team to get out. Even the two strike hits in the sixth, we had a two-strike double to Cain, a two-strike one-armed single to Hosmer, a two-strike rolling ground ball to second base from Morales right-handed. A couple of walks.
I mean, they just, they continued to compete through their at-bats. I mean, they didn't get to where they're at without a pretty good offensive club.
So I think they -- whether you want to credit them that they finished their at-bats or, you know, say that we didn't execute at the end of at-bats to put guys away, that's baseball. I mean, we're going to think about that overnight, over the next couple nights on how to finish at-bats a little bit better to where it ends on our favor.
So those are tough ones with two strikes. I think those are the pitches that are small margins for error there against a good contact hitting team that doesn't give in when they're behind.
Q. A.J., obviously, you want to get them both after you won the first one. A lot of your players talk about let's get one. You got one. Do you feel like leaving here, in some ways, mission accomplished?
A.J. HINCH: No, not after that loss, I don't feel like mission's accomplished. I want to win every game. So I think I'm happy that we're going home. I know the Houston fans are ready for us to come home. We've got home-field advantage for the rest of this series. We got to take care of business in our own back yard.
But we were in position early to win that game. They did a good job of getting to us in the sixth and seventh. Their bullpen did a very good job of shutting us down. We didn't have -- I think, what did we have, three or four base runners after Rasmus's homer in the third inning.
So we've got some work to do to win this series. It's going to be a good series. These are two really good teams. Getting out of here with a win feels great. Getting out of here with two would have felt better.
Q. With as much ground with Marisnick and Springer covered, were you surprised the ball found a place to drop?
A.J. HINCH: It looked like George didn't pick the ball up. The sun came out at that point in the game, and I don't know if there was a delay in his read. I haven't talked to him about it. Jake went a long way to just miss it. I'm surprised any time a ball falls between one of our outfielders that doesn't either go off the wall or go out of the ballpark.
We do as good a job as anybody in baseball at covering the real estate in the outfield. Obviously, well placed, well hit. Big moment of the game to get to third base at that point. And makes for a difficult alignment. We're going to play the infield in. Gets the heart of their order. Zobrist gets the breaking ball, does a good job getting him in.
All in all, I do want to credit the competitiveness of their at-bats. We played hard. We played 'til the finish. But we just came up short.
Q. Talk a little bit about Scott's outing and seems like he gave you exactly what you wanted pretty much, the decision to pull him or let him start the sixth inning as well?
A.J. HINCH: I thought Kazmir was throwing the ball very well. I thought for some -- he's pretty far, long rest, and I thought his stuff was better than it's been in his previous starts, velocity was up. I thought his change-up was better. He didn't throw a ton of breaking balls until later in the game.
But he did everything you would ask in a playoff game to pitch deeper into the game, get close to 100 pitches. In the sixth, I liked how he was throwing the ball to end the fifth. He got some big outs. And to start the sixth, he gets the leadoff guy out on a pop-up and then gets ahead of Cain and the two-strike fastball was supposed to be a little bit of a waste pitch, ends up down the middle and Cain does a good job of hitting the ball the other way.
At that point, I've got a choice of leaving him in the game versus getting somebody fresh. You know, third time through the order, generally speaking, is never good. So I wanted to give these guys a different look in the heart of the order, Hosmer, you know, give him -- comes from a different angle. He got him out last night and did everything except finish the at-bat today. He had two strikes on him. Hosmer gets a one-arm single, which, when it's on your side, you say it's a battle. When it's on our side, it's you've got to finish the at-bat. So that obviously propelled the inning forward. We had a couple walks in there that are unfortunate.
But to get back to Kazmir, he did everything you would expect Scott Kazmir to do in a game that mattered a lot, and I was proud of his effort.
Q. Two questions. When you got to the mound after Cain's hit to talk to Kazmir, was there a chance you left him in there? Was there a discussion?
A.J. HINCH: No, I wanted to tell him -- before I motioned, I wanted to tell him what I was doing and tell him how much I thought he battled today and did his job. This guy hadn't pitched this deep into a game in a while, and getting his pitches up to close to 100, he had battled through a little bit of adversity earlier in the game, but he hadn't given up a ton. The fresh look for Hosmer was the motivation there, and I wanted him to know he had put us in a good position to start that game, and we were going to give a different look to the middle of the order.
Q. Going back to Gomez for a second, understanding it was a good throw, is it acceptable for him to be picked off in that situation?
A.J. HINCH: Acceptable? I don't know if anybody says it's acceptable. You have to try to win the game. To try to win the game, you have to get to the next base. Piecing together three hits against Davis, you've heard he's a good reliever. We have to try to do something to try to win the game. Part of that is getting to the next base. You never want to make an out on the base. Baseball people know that.
But when a pickoff's up the line and he's tagged on the shoulder by, you know, a very fortunate kind of catch tag by the first baseman, it's hard to blame anyone. It's unfortunate. We don't like it. It's not how we wanted that inning to go. But, again, that's just part of the game.
Q. A.J., on Perez, on the single to Hosmer, he looked afterwards surprised. Was he surprised that they hit or almost like he looked to see where the defense was and didn't know the shift they made?
A.J. HINCH: The shift was there the whole time. It was there last night. I think what he was surprised by is after the first couple swings, he had him very vulnerable. And it didn't look like he was picking up his breaking ball. It didn't look like Hosmer was staying in there and recognizing the ball out of hand.
So I haven't seen the pitch on video to see how -- where it was in terms of the plate, but I think how he had made him look in the early part of that at-bat for Hosmer to be able to stay on that pitch and extend his arm and get a one-handed line drive, I'm sure Oli was surprised that the ball came off level on a line drive trajectory and carried to the outfield. I mean, it wasn't a comfortable at-bat for Hosmer, but he found a way to find some grass.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, A.J. We'll see you in Houston.